Date of Award


Access Restriction


Degree Name

Doctorate in Education



School or College

School of Education

First Advisor

Lauren Casella

Second Advisor

Fernando Estrada

Third Advisor

Maryann Krikorian


Teacher burnout during the pandemic has resulted in a mass exodus of teachers that, compounded with consistently low enrollment in teacher preparation programs, has caused a severe and catastrophic teacher shortage. This qualitative study investigated teacher perceptions of pandemic-related workload and emotional stress and their effects on job satisfaction and burnout. The dissertation study consisted of semi-structured interviews of sixteen current or former high school educators who taught before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings suggest a wide range of disruptions to teachers’ preexisting professional responsibilities and additions to what has been considered to constitute a teacher’s typical workload, particularly: increased logistical responsibility without correlating support; lack of consistent and transparent communication between teachers and administrators regarding protocols and expectations, and erosion of meaningful interactions with students. Findings reveal an overall inefficacy of current emotional labor strategies to stave off burnout and job dissatisfaction, largely due to outdated and gendered expectations for teacher behavior and emotional expression. Findings culminate in a graphic describing relationship between teachers’ professional experiences and changes to occupational workload during the pandemic and their subsequent job satisfaction. The findings suggest the need for school leaders to prioritize teacher training to better support teacher mental health, introduce an equity audit process to explore and identify outdated expectations for teacher emotional display rules, and leverage interpersonal relationships between teachers to strengthen research practices on teacher retention and wellbeing.